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Tutorials - Polyester Resin Impregnation II
Another step in an already very efficient way to impregnate wood. This time for not so soft materials.
I've already made a tutorial on A very efficient low tech way to impregnate wood and other porous materials, this one is based on that one, but with an extra step, to make sure woods and other harder (but not hard enough to use them in natural) materials can be easily impregnated too.

For the particle board piece I've used for the pictures the previous method would have been more than enough, but I also wanted to show that when you put certain techniques in the equation, you can use materials that otherwise are absolutely no good for knifemaking (Can you imagine a particle board handle for instance? How long would that last and feel?)

This is the vacuum chamber I've made for this process. It's a 4" diameter iron tube with the back end closed with a welded flat and the front end threaded to accept the cap you see there. (Pictures 1, 2, 3 and 4)

It has two different connections, the "V" marked one is the one connected to the vacuum pump. The glass in the middle acts as "trap" in case resin gets sucked in. This way, if you use too much, it gets trapped in the glass instead of messing up the compressor. The connected vacuum gauge will measure the pressure in the vacuum chamber when the compressor is running.

Connection marked with a "P" is for the compressed air I'll use later.

Here's a particle board piece that has already been drilled (5/16" diameter, 3" deep) and threaded to accept the vacuum tube. It weights 1.62 ounces. (Picture 5)

Connected to the vacuum tube via the threaded tip. (Picture 6)

I then put the block of wood inside a plastic bag with 50 grams or poliester resin. (Picture 7)

This resin I use is more liquid than the one I used to use for making micarta in the past (nowadays I use this exclusively). It comes this way from the factory directly, with the maximum added styrene monomer already there. It's more expensive than the other, but in this quantities it's crystal clear, and doesn't leave a blueish tone that would run the natural color of the wood or stag. I only have to add 1% of catalyst as hardener agent.

Note the difference as soon as I start the vacuum compressor. (Picture 8)
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Once I have that set up, I place it inside the chamber and close it using the threaded cap. The vacuum gauge now meassures 18 linear inches. (Pictures 9 and 10)

After about 1-2 minutes, I close the vacuum connection, remove the tube for easy manipulation of the rest of the stuff. (Picture 11)

Now this is the second step that makes a difference. When I open the intake for compressed air and apply 5 ATMs (70 lbs per square inch) for about 4-5 minutes, this forces an even deeper resin penetration before it gets gellyfied (about 6 minutes for the resin I use) (Pictures 12 and 13)

Once the resin gets like this, I stop the compressor and open the cap to retrieve the piece. (Picture 12)

Depending on the composition of the resin, you have another 4-10 minutes for it to dry up. In that time you can just retrieve the vacuum insert with no problems. I don't use a release agent because of this. At this 10-15 minutes, the resin it's somewhat hard, and if you forget to retrieve the vacuum insert and leave it there, it happened to me the past, there's no way you are getting it out, period

Particle wood out of the bag, already impregnated. (Picture 15)

Difference between the original weight and the after-impregnation weight: 1.13 oz (Picture 16)
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Comparo between a regular piece of particle board (left) and a impregnated and polished one (right) (Pictures 17 and 18)

It's best to wait 24 hours before polishing the impregnated piece, as it wouldn't look as good if done before, and would somewhat mess up the polishing cloth as it's not 100% dried up.

To show the hardness of the impregnated wood in a non conventional, yet graphic way, I've decided to shoot at them with a CO2 Gamo V3 (425fps) pistol shooting round .177" copper pellets at a distance of 3 meters (10 ft)

Depth of the mark made in the impregnated particle board: 0.0141" (Picture 19)

Depth of the mark made in a regular particle board: 0.0633" (Picture 20)

Depth of the mark made in the impregnated particle board (on a lateral): 0.0389" (Picture 21)

Depth of the hole made in a regular particle board (on a lateral): 0.1925" (Picture 22)

Depth of the mark made in a regular piece of Guayacan (a hard wood): 0.0338" (Picture 23)

Depth of the hole made in my own made micarta: 0.0114" (Picture 24)
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Close up of the mark in the micarta. (Picture 25)

Pellet incrustated on white spruce wood, a soft wood, at the same distance. (Picture 26)

How all the marks/holes were measured. (Picture 27)
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Impregnated and Polished Wood
Dried up and polished particle board. A grainy, super soft wood. (Pictures 1 and 2)

Dried up and polished Haya good. A semi soft wood. (Pictures 3 and 4)
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